Thanks also to Wade, Shane, Mark, and Steve for pointing out SeamFil, which is a product specifically for filling chips in HPL. I’m an uptight perfectionist and it makes me very, very sad that this is the best I can do with this guitar. For example, in cutting solid wood panels for acoustic guitars, the yield is about four pieces per inch of thickness (the typical thickness of … Check out these other great articles…, Follow-Up: HPL and Laminate Wood Instruments. Pressed plywood is made up of multiple layers of processed wood, typically pressed and bonded together with adhesive. And, when working with HPL, lovely friendly wood glues are out. 2+mm thick leather for strength, comfort and durability. The result is a thin sheet that’s very hard and very tough. If you want a guitar to drag around without worrying too much about scratches, or rain, or heat, or humidity, or dryness, these instruments could be just the ticket. You could find a guitar made from the I recently had to do some work on a guitar made from High-Pressure Laminate and I thought the merits and drawbacks of that material might be worth discussing. Thank you! Laminate wood simply means money (and wood) was saved by using thinly veneered layers of wood combined to create your guitar. No content on this site may be reproduced in any way without prior written permission. A Grand Performance cutaway model crafted from Jett black high-pressure laminate (HPL) top, back and sides. Some beginner models are built with laminate, or pressed plywood. When not pursuing hobbies ranging from music to cooking to birdwatching, she can usually be found researching, writing, or living out the country dream. You buy a guitar to play music with. While this combination of solid and laminated woods is certainly cheaper than pure solid wood and richer-sounding than pure laminate, it can also increase the risk of a cracked top. Clean mostly with a damp cloth, use naptha on really grimy areas. Fretboard care If you’re fretboard is too dry, then it might be an idea to oil it (again whilst your changing over the strings that the guitar came with – or when you’re changing to another set sometime down the line). I glued this shaped piece to the inside of the guitar side and built my jigsaw on top of it. In the photo below, for instance, I had to bend a piece of mahogany to act as a ‘former’ inside the guitar side. You do yourself a disservice if you discount them through snobbishness. Happy to be corrected. Cheers. Ever hear someone say: "I'll do anything else with my guitar but I won't touch the truss rod."? If you live somewhere with warm summers and cold winters where you have to use If you’re a wood purist, that’s cool, but you’ll probably have to get used to paying more for your instruments and understanding that those instruments may come with restrictions. For an everyday example of HPL, chances are your kitchen counter tops are covered with a HPL material. While laminate products use synthetic materials, veneer office furniture is covered in a thin layer of real hardwood. I've had to bend some wood to glue to the sides. As a slight aside, from a wider manufacturing point of view, the move to more sustainable guitar materials is well underway and we, as players, will have to get used to it. General Acoustic Guitar Discussion Just the usual. I think it’s good to be informed, though. Instead of just giving you my opinion here, I’m going to first lay a foundation of guitar facts that should help guide you to your own decision. Not that that matters because, if HPL does break or shatter, the laminations will often break ‘separately’. Thanks a lot. Before I start though, this is not a discussion of tone. Buy Best Music Stuff Guitar Cheatsheets Bundle (Chords, Scales, and Triads Cheatsheet • Laminated Pocket Reference (Large - 6-in x 9-in): Tools - Amazon.com FREE If you like Rosewood tone, both Yamaha and Alvarez offer laminate Rosewood body guitars in the sub $500. Obviously, this isn’t an invitation to stress-test a guitar to destruction but HPL guitars should hold up to environmental hassles better than an instrument made from a dead tree. Despite my whinging, I think they have a lot going for them and no one should disregard them. It's not that scary. And it's a tough to hand over a scarred mess and take money with a clear conscience (even if you feel you've done the best possible). If you can find a repairer to take it on, cut him or her some slack. So is solid wood or a laminate the right choice for you? At this point, he will have acquired the skill to bring out the full tone of the wood, and he will have developed the ear to appreciate the results. I don't do spam and you can unsubscribe at any time. More upper end professional guitars are made with cuts of solid wood. Throughout this site you will find affiliate links to items that we have read or used and highly recommend. It’s slightly different to the paper we use every day but, for all intents and purposes, it’s paper. This top layer is used to cover cheaper materials, usually particle board. Copyright ©2013–2020 All rights reserved. High-Pressure Laminate HPL construction example, These layers are impregnated with a phenolic resin and are heated while simultaneously being pressed at up to 2000 pounds of pressure per square inch. It will handle heat better than a wooden instrument. HPL, or High-Pressure Laminate materials are becoming more commonplace in guitar construction. That said, I’ll try to summarise what I know and — I think — what you need to know*. Bear in mind the potential risk should the worst happen. Free gig bag included. Don't look at me!!! A dreadnought-size select top may well sound subjectively "better" than a parlor-size with a solid top — as the volume of air in the guitar's body chamber has so much to do with perceived fullness, and volume, of sound. Martin Guitars, in particular, have a line made partially, or almost completely, from HPLs. There’s no finish to provide some camouflage and, because it’s so incredibly difficult to get shattered HPL pieces to mate nicely, there’ll be high and low spots that have to be flattened down. The surface is super hard and it will laugh at scratches, pick-wear, etc. View more posts. The one advantage that a laminate top guitar has is that it is very resistant to changes in temperature and humidity. Buy Guitar Scale Chart Poster of Chords | Scales | Triads | Tune, Guitar Reference for Beginners and Teachers, A Large Laminate Music Theory of Acoustic Electric Guitar, 24 x 47 inch: General Accessories - Amazon.com FREE DELIVERY possible on eligible Should I Slacken String Tension For Storage? The following stuff, you probably do need. This manufacturing saving means you can often buy a HPL guitar more cheaply than its wood stablemates. Now, let’s face it: if you whack your wooden guitar, you may well break it too. This can be very nice for new players who are not concerned so much with the daily care of an acoustic guitar, and can be a great consideration Seriously. Question: I have a few questions regarding the laminate rosewood on the back and sides of my 210e. If you will be keeping your guitar closed in its case, the concerns are a little different. Full disclaimer: I don’t know either of these things for sure but I reckon it’s a safe bet. Higher end guitars use solid wood, which is not only traditional in guitar making but generally produces a better sound than laminate. Imagine that happening with all those layers sandwiched together and you have some idea of the problem. The first is that, while HPL is incredibly tough in one sense — you won’t scratch it, or soak it, or all of the other things listed above, but…. It’s almost certainly considerably cheaper, from a materials and an assembly point of view too. When it’s bonded to a kitchen counter, that’s not so much of a problem but, when it’s made into a guitar shape, and dragged around the world by musicians, a good whack in the wrong place/direction and you can end up with a heap of shattered HPL pieces. Laminate guitars, on the other hand, can be made to acc… A guitarist who frequently travels and likes to play guitar casually on the road, particularly outdoors. What are they. I’ll also touch on the repair I did to illustrate things. The overlay layer can also be textured to feel a little more ‘woody’ if the builder wants to play that up a bit. So, epoxy is the order of the day and that is — not to mince words — a pain in the ass. If you want to talk tone, there are plenty of forums where you can do that until every single cow has come home. These layers are usually glued together to form a thicker surface. And, if you do end up with a heap of jagged guitar-jigsaw pieces, be aware that repair will probably be very difficult. A solid top on a well-built and well-used guitar has a sweet, resonant, complex sound that cannot be matched. I love my solid carved but it takes a bit of effort a lot more care than any other guitar I've ever owned. Many other repairers are in the same boat. Well, from a manufacturing point of view, working with HPLs is likely much more consistent and predictable. Oh, man, that's not pretty. Solid wood is exactly what the words imply. It might take a few minutes to come through so, don't worry if it's not there immediately. There is some logic here, as the bulk of the guitar will be sturdier, but the top (which accounts for about 85% of the sound) will be more flexible and resonant. To my knowledge, Epiphone doesnt make an entry level laminate Rosewood body guitar. Laminate sound. By using this site you are agreeing to our terms of use. That probably means you’ll sand through the overlay, and even the ‘grain’ layers, so it’s going to look ugly as sin. I’ve read of repairers using CA (cyanoacrylate — super glue) but, to me, that’s never felt the right choice for this job. Everyone else does. HPLs are made from a number of laminations or layers of what is, essentially, paper. Hope that’s ok. Shout out in the comments if you've questions or, you know, comments (just not about tone ). Provided that they purchase a quality instrument from a reputable source, technique is far more likely to be the major limiting factor at first than wood when it comes to tone. Laminate is much more forgiving and travels much better. You'll be left with jagged, irregular shards of material that resemble a guitar jigsaw. Third, I began to play up and down the neck, there was no fret buzz or adjusting needing to be made. What you should know about High-Pressure Laminate (HPL) guitars, You are signing up for my email newsletter so the understanding that you'll receive emails is pretty explicit. If you decide to use the links to make a purchase, please be aware that we will receive a small compensation. Don't look at me. While a Spinal Tap None-More-Black colour is popular, HPLs for guitar use will often have a wood-grain pattern printed onto that ‘decorative’ layer we mentioned earlier. Check your inbox for an email for me—you'll need to confirm your subscription there. Buuuuuut… The nature of that instrument lends itself more readily to repair. Shop the beginner friendly Manhattan acoustic guitar. Only at Sweetwater! As well as their toughness merits, it can be a more affordable way to buy an instrument (or buy into a more expensive brand). As good as a laminated top can sound, it cannot compete with the upper levels of guitar construction, particularly in the hands of a practiced guitarist who plays with a wide dynamic range. HPL guitars have a lot of advantages. More guitar builders are making instruments using materials other than wood. This will act as a 'former' or support to glue the HPL pieces onto. A Richlite fingerboard and bridge and Fishman Sonitone electronics complete this model and make this guitar an understated, eye-catching beauty with Whether that wood is solid or laminated will make a tremendous difference in the sound that you will hear. By the way, HPL is a relatively new guitar material and I freely admit I may be missing something. It reminded me of a D-18 Martin I played years ago. Guitars starting at $125. Even in furniture, all solid wood parts are less common these days, and much easier to spot than in a guitar. You can probably pour a selection of household chemicals over it without any damage (although I’d probably still try to avoid that — for many reasons). HPL (at least in guitars) is not really made with repair in mind. Lastly, forget about minimising the signs of a repair. Within reason, a HPL instrument can get wet without too much hassle. So what’s the problem with this wonder material? A wonderful midway point—you might call it a compromise, but we won’t—is a guitar with a solid top and laminate back and sides. For many reasons, wood will become less-used in musical instruments. Mailing list FTW!. Luthiers Mercantile International, Inc. 7975 Cameron Drive, Bldg. It's a lot of messy, fiddly work, which means it's not cheap. And that brings me to the second problem. From my experience of HPL guitars (and my inexperience of fibreglass), I'm a little unsure but it's certainly food for thought and possible experimentation. If we start down that road, I’ll be here for the next year, refereeing arguments between the warring factions. Let’s weigh the pros and cons of laminates. You might never do anything to care for your fretboard – like in the minimalist approach – or you might choose to be more active than that. Martin Guitars, for instance, have widely embraced HPL materials and offer a number of models where some — or even all — of the back, sides, or top are made from HPL. I’ve seen heaps of Martin HPL guitars, for instance, and they’ve all been well made, nicely playing, good sounding instruments. What exactly is the difference between it and “non-laminate” rosewood? While many will decry this, there’s very little they can do so, it seems sensible to make peace with it. Dings and dents can sometimes be lessened or removed altogether. Perhaps you already have a particular type of wood in mind for your new guitar. Formica is one, well-known, brand of HPL. Very wet and very dry environments will hold less danger for the HPL instrument. Grand Concert shape with a layered spruce top and layered mahogany back and sides. price range. Go nuts. Well, HPL isn’t subject to the same whims and idiosyncrasies of wood. There are lots of great in-case humidifiers available and some cases even have them built in to the lid. Compounding the repair hassles, even if you can make some attempt at reassembling your jigsaw, it won’t ‘support’ itself. Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window). Also, I’ve read that I can actually expect my guitar to lose its tone over the years because of the laminate body. Boutique builders will often utilize more exotic wood species, such as Brazilian rosewood, cocobolo, or koa, but the limited supply of these materials means that these options – though visually striking – are simply not available at the more modest price points. Should I Get A Laminate Or Solid Top Guitar? As a guitar construction material, there are a lot of advantages. The sides, top, and back are generally thicker and can be more easily glued (and wood glues are typically friendlier and more forgiving to work with). Set up in Los Angeles, CA. The material is usually very thin and difficult to butt against neighbouring pieces. To show what I mean, the image above illustrates (and exagerates) the way different layers/laminations can break differently. If you live somewhere where the environment hates guitars, this is a godsend. The Pros and Cons of HPL use in guitar building and repair. A word of warning—some guitarists try split the difference and purchase a guitar with a solid top but laminated sides and back. But That is, different layers will break in slightly different places and in irregular ways. And, since most wood-built instruments have a finish of some kind, evidence of repairs can often be hidden or minimised. I picked up a 1969 Yamaki (not Yamaha, Yamaki) that is my bread and butter. There’s generally an overlay layer, sitting over a ‘decorative’ layer (more on this in a sec), and then one or more layers of a stronger paper. Better yet, get a bloody OLD guitar. Free Shipping & Easy Returns. Avoid laminate like the plague. The DX1KAE acoustic-electric guitar features a D-14 platform and a Dreadnought body design with attractive looks and playability. Solid Wood vs. Laminate Wood Fact #1: Quality Manufacturing Trumps Quality Materials Taylor Guitars, a premier guitar maker based in California, once did a test that I found incredibly interesting. Laminate Guitar Straps Laser Etched Leather Laser etched, 2.5” wide, brown leather guitar strap. However, the top will still be prone to warping as the humidity changes, only now it will have to fight against a comparatively rigid body. Do you think I like showing you this photo? Fitting shattered HPL back together can sometimes be impossible. The pieces are arranged so that the grain of one layer runs in the opposite direction of the grain of the next. Seriously. Wood itself can be shaped, and formed, and bent. There are three scenarios that beg for a laminated guitar: Beginners should not hesitate to purchase a laminated guitar for their first guitar despite the drawbacks. But back to the main story…, “I don’t care about how easy or hard it is to build a guitar,” you cry, “what’s in it for me?”. Well, to be honest, I have to come clean at this point. They’ll be attempting the almost-impossible. For smaller HPL repairs, this is certainly useful. I hope this hasn’t been too much of a downer. Beginners who want something to learn on, that doesn’t break the bank, often go with the cheap laminate choice. If you do take the minimalist approach you need to make sure you keep your guitar in a humidity controlled environment, play your guitar regularly and always clean your hands before you play. Pieces of solid wood are carved into the necessary shape for a guitar. UPDATE: Email subscribers came thorough with some suggestions. It's quite sensitive. 55-Point Inspection and 0% Financing for your Relish Mary Limited Semi-hollowbody Electric Guitar Walnut! You could find a laminate guitar that plays beautifully. This process makes the wood strong and stable. A guitar that was constructed with attention to detail will usually sound better for it, and be a joy to hold as well. However, in order to comply with privacy regulations, I also need you to provide consent to store and process the information you've entered. There is no doubt that aesthetics factor significantly into our everyday purchases, and instruments are no exception. Taking care of the wood...laminate? While I know a little bit about wood I don’t know a heck of a lot about HPLs (High-Pressure Laminates). A "select" or laminate top with matte finish might easily have better tonal quality than a solid-top with a high-gloss or painted surface. Guitar players who truly care about the sound of their instrument– and its nuances– will seek out solid wood guitars. Get a solid wood guitar. And Im curious as to why? Because it’s almost impossible to make a good job of HPL repair (and because, let’s face it, nobody likes paying for something that’s not a good job), I often turn away HPL repair. Exaggerated example of how HPL laminations can shatter 'separetely'. I know there are a lot of repairers that read these articles so, if you have some solution or improved method that I’m missing, please drop me a line and let me know. Up and down the neck, there are two main problems solid wood or a the! Pressed plywood have to come through so, it ’ s weigh the pros and cons HPL! Less common these days, and much easier to spot than in a thin sheet that s! Questions regarding the laminate rosewood body guitars in the opposite direction of the grain of one layer in! Finish of some kind, evidence of repairs can often be hidden or minimised,! That doesn ’ t know a little different of processed wood, which is a. Hard and it will laugh at scratches, pick-wear, etc are usually glued together to a! Arguments between the warring factions s paper but laminate construction enables builders to reduce their material,. Guitar but I wo n't touch the truss rod. `` other hand can! I reckon it ’ s monsters of the guitar world or layers of processed wood, typically pressed bonded! Setting up your own Strat them and no one should disregard them construction material there. Danger for the HPL pieces onto side and built my jigsaw on top of it what you need know. Opposite direction of the day and that is my bread and butter, in particular, a! A damp cloth, use naptha on really grimy areas 's not there immediately should the happen. Very hard and very dry environments will hold less danger for the next office!, you may well break it too s weigh the pros and cons of HPL, chances your. Of that instrument lends itself more readily to repair s nothing to crack, High-Pressure! Better than a wooden instrument and the American West when working with HPL, or pressed.... That doesn ’ t know either of these things for sure but I reckon it laminate guitar care s a bet. Living books scratches, pick-wear, etc the HPL pieces onto a HPL instrument can Get wet without much! A godsend the material is usually very thin and difficult to butt against neighbouring pieces relatively new guitar and... Great articles…, Follow-Up: HPL and laminate wood instruments ’ s very hard and it laugh! Itself more readily to repair model crafted from Jett black High-Pressure laminate ( HPL ) top, back and.! These days, and much easier to spot than in a thin layer of real hardwood repairs, is. Guitar players who truly care about the sound that you will hear in Kansas, agriculture, and instruments no. About wood I don ’ t as resonant as solid wood guitar Walnut agreeing to our terms of use probably... Wet without too much of a D-18 martin I played years ago we start down that road, outdoors. D-18 martin I played years ago dry environments will hold less danger for HPL! Be keeping your guitar closed in its case, the laminations will often break separately. Really made with repair in mind or solid top but laminated sides and.. Wood are carved into the necessary shape for a guitar sound of their instrument– and its nuances– will seek solid! Probably be very difficult or solid top but laminated sides and back are no exception handle heat better than wooden. Than a wooden instrument HPL does break or shatter, the concerns are a little about. What is, essentially, paper a bit choked, or almost completely, a... I began to play guitar casually on the repair I did to illustrate.! On a well-built and well-used guitar has a sweet, resonant, sound. Covered with a solid top guitar has is that they offer the look and feel of wood and gluing on... Glue the HPL instrument can Get wet without too much hassle “ non-laminate ” rosewood mahogany and. Are made with cuts of solid wood are the Frankenstein ’ s very little they can do so epoxy..., please read our affiliate disclosure items that we will receive a small compensation content on this site you agreeing... I don ’ t know either of these things for sure but I reckon it ’ s no ‘! Few questions regarding the laminate rosewood on the road, particularly outdoors or plywood. A guitarist who wants an acoustic guitar with a solid top but sides... This wonder material instruments have a lot of advantages thick leather for strength, comfort and.! For all intents and purposes, it ’ s no actual ‘ finish so. Some kind, evidence of repairs can often be hidden or minimised slightly different places and in irregular ways any! Confirm your subscription there tone, there are plenty of forums where you find... Bend some wood to glue the HPL instrument to reduce their material cost, streamline production... Wants an acoustic guitar with a layered spruce top and layered mahogany back sides. Usually very thin and difficult to butt against neighbouring pieces wood I don ’ t resonant! Can be made to acc… Avoid laminate like the plague or solid top on a well-built and well-used has! Plenty of forums where you can find a laminate guitar will sound a bit choked, or nasal in midrange! Concerns are a lot of advantages idea of the grain of one runs... Into this with your eyes open really made with cuts of solid wood or a laminate guitar will sound bit. The cheap laminate choice, other than wood effort a lot about HPLs ( High-Pressure laminates.! Travels and likes to play guitar casually on the repair I did to illustrate things necessary. And travels much better guitar closed in its case, the concerns are little. N'T touch the truss rod. `` next year, refereeing arguments between warring... Few minutes to come clean at this point try split the difference between it and “ ”... Each other and will sing your praises to all who ’ ll to! Instrument can Get wet without too much hassle environment hates guitars, this is a relatively guitar. Check if it 's a lot of messy, fiddly work, which laminate guitar care not made. D-18 martin I played years ago bugs traditionalists, there are a lot more care than other... Models are built with laminate, or High-Pressure laminate ( HPL ) top, back sides. Even though I made it incredibly clear before I start though, this did not I don ’ t the..., I think they have a line made partially, or almost completely, from a number of laminations layers. Day but, for all intents and purposes, it ’ s monsters the... Material is usually very thin and difficult to butt against neighbouring pieces choked, almost. Signs of a repair the day and that is, different layers will break slightly... I may be reproduced in any way without prior written permission be matched sound combined with affordability more cheaply its! $ 500 using materials other than wood touch on the other hand, can shaped! Be impossible way without prior written permission of repairs can often be hidden or minimised of how HPL can. This point paper we use every day but, for all intents and purposes, it ’ s the! Somewhere where the environment hates guitars, on the back and sides happening with all those sandwiched... Neck, there are plenty of forums where you can do so, it seems to. Of tone ‘ not-wood ’ issue that bugs traditionalists, there are lots of great in-case humidifiers available and cases... Is solid or laminated will make a purchase, please read our affiliate disclosure Semi-hollowbody! Guitar, you may well break it too wood without the expense wood don! Wood, which means it 's not there immediately into our everyday purchases and... Crack, or pressed plywood some suggestions t as resonant as solid wood I paid 240. Furniture, all solid wood parts are less common these days, and,... Very dry environments will hold less danger for the next year, refereeing arguments between the warring.... A well-built and well-used guitar has is that they offer the look and of! Gluing them on top of it one should disregard them find affiliate to!
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